(Photo by Gus Sarmiento)
If there's a bike event going on in Los Angeles, you're not only likely to see Mike Bowers there, but you'll hear him as well. Whether it's Wolfpack Hustle, track racing, or even charity rides, expect that Mike will be emceeing.
His voice doesn't go quiet when he puts down the microphone. Mike is involved with the cycling community in a number of other ways, from leading his own nonprofit to giving people tours of the city.
It's not just Mike you'll see around town, but wherever he goes, you'll find his family on two wheels as well.
Mike sounds off on how cycling has shaped his life and vice versa.
Some New Yorkers swear off ever moving to L.A. What got you to move across the coast?
I moved out here because I was getting in trouble in New York living under my grandparents. So they sent me to L.A. to live with my father.
Blanca & Mike pose with racing legend Nelson Vails.
Where did your interest start in pursuing a career in the Information Technology field?
It was something I was naturally drawn to. At a young age I would break apart things to see what made them work, then try to put them together better that originally designed. When I moved to LA.. to live with my father, he spent $2,500 on a IBM PC XT from ComputerLand and one day we did a memory upgrade from 64k to 256k. From there, the fear of working on a computer was never nurtured. So, I became a techie from that point on!
Starting your own business must be both rewarding and daunting at the same time.
Being in business for myself definitely has its challenges, but the rewards are always worth it. The pressure to be right can be daunting. My family eats based on my effort's success rate! So the pressure is always on to constantly be improving!
You’ve been settled in the San Fernando Valley since 2012. What do you like about living out in the Valley?
I'm still warming up to the 818. I moved out to the Valley primarily because my girlfriend was pregnant with our now 4.75 year old. Her rent was significantly cheaper than mine and much more kid friendly. So 818 it is! It is FAMILY friendly. But I am a foodie and there very few good eating spots in the Valley. So a nice dinner is usually in the City somewhere.
The CoolassRide also brings a lot of fun.
When did cycling start playing a large part of your life?
Cycling began to be a big part of my life back in 2007 when I started doing Midnight Ridazz rides and became a part of the community. At least 4-5 nights a week I was out on a bike ride. Then, I created the CoolassRide to bring the same people and experiences to the day time so we can enjoy the city when it’s ALIVE and HAPPENING!
10/10/10 is known as a special date as being the first CicLAvia. We hear it has even more significance to you?
It’s the day I met my wife Blanca.
You’re known as a local celebrity for emceeing events and leading rides around the city. Talk about part of the community that you’ve formed.
My goals were always to bring more people together to share the good times I was having. So the CoolassRide was that partnered with teaching people to ride safe in the streets while having fun and exploring the city. I would unintentionally lead rides usually because of a lack of leadership or directive. As for the emceeing, that started because I once hosted a web show on Ustream titled Bike Talks with Kitty Kat and CoolassMike. We discussed everything bikes. From performance to safety to security to activism. One day, on my way back from exhibiting at Interbike, Dorothy Wong called and asked me to cover one of her races. I did, but noticed a lack of direction and energy, so I offered to emcee to help make the events more exciting. Now it’s been five years!
Niya and Mike take to Ventura Blvd for CicLAvia.
What was the impetus for you to start your non-profit, 1000 Bikes?
When I was younger, I was a rebellious child. When I came to L.A., I began to get into more trouble and my father wasn’t having that. So I rebelled and ran away because I did not like the way my father was disciplining me. As a result I got placed into a foster home. When I got to one, there was no chemistry in the house. So I wandered off and got some kids to come steal a car with me (because the car I got keys to was a stick and I didn’t know how to drive stick) instead of something positive. So I saw a potential way to draw foster families together as a family, over bikes. I figured if I gave the ENTIRE FAMILY bikes, including parents, they would bond over this new hobby and do things together, thus keeping everyone busy or at least connected, and hopefully stay out of trouble!
The track, for me is a concentrated form of racing whereas road/criterium racing is more open. Different environments which present different challenges. The track is simpler but harder at the same time because the race is all together. You are either IN IT or it's obvious you are OUT OF IT!
Mike not only announces at Wolfpack Hustle but races too.
On top of your busy schedule, how important is it to go on family bike rides?
Very important. It’s something we enjoy doing as a couple and as a family. It’s an excuse to ride my bike when I can incorporate the family into the activity. Everything is easier to do when you involve the family.
What’s the perfect day for the Bowers family?
The perfect day for the CoolassFamily starts with COFFEE! Then a good healthy breakfast followed by an outing where we can all do something challenging. Of course good food is involved at every step of the day, but having the family together while being outdoors is always a good day. I suppose the PERFECT day would be one that ends with me finding a large duffle bag filled with untraceable hundred dollar bills!